I had something done vs I got something done

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I have discovered that when you dont do something yourself but you make someone else to do it, you can say either:

I had my hair cut. OR I got my hair cut.

I wonder whether those two have exactly same meaning and usage. Is one form more common than other? More formal? More suitable in some situations?

Vojtech Ruzicka

Posted 2015-04-17T10:07:36.843

Reputation: 183

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The potential semantic distinction (*to have something done* usually implies someone else will do it for you; *to get it done* implies nothing about whether it'll be done by you or someone else) was covered in this ELU question.

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2015-04-17T14:56:56.333

@FumbleFingers I've a question on your comment, especially as to what you said that 'to have something done' usually implies that 'someone else will do it for you'. That said, as you didn't say exclusively, there might be some sentences in which the structure could be implied to mean 'i myself will do it (for myself)' as in 'I will have my homework finished by tomorrow'? To me, the implication of the structure seems to be different in accordance with usage. – Glittering river – 2018-11-06T16:06:40.133

1@SIS: Suppose your boss at work was complaining that you didn't hand in your weekly timesheet yesterday. You might say Sorry about that. I'll have it done tomorrow - which certainly wouldn't be taken as implying that you intended to get someone else to do your timesheet for you. As you say, "usage" (what I'd call *context* or *pragmatics*) can make a lot of difference to what any given utterance means (it's not all about the words themselves). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2018-11-06T17:28:45.307

Answers

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Meaning: In the context of hair cuts specifically, you can use both without concerns as it is (usually) obvious that people get their hair done by others. (Unless it's very obvious someone did it themselves :))

However, in other situations (especially formal) I would be a little bit more attentive to which one of those I use:

Hey Sam, what about the mail I asked to be sent by this afternoon?

If Sam did it himself, he'd usually say:

I got it done

(If Sam doesn't have to use either of "got it/had it" he'd just say "I did it/I sent it" to avoid any potential confusion)

If Sam had someone do it for him, he'd usually say:

Don't worry, I had that one done / I had it done / I had it sent

Or

I got someone to do it for me

(more casually: I got someone to do it)

"Got it done" usually means that the speaker carried the action himself. "Had it done" almost always means that someone else had done it on the speaker's behalf.

Formality: "I got my hair cut" is the more casual way to phrase it.

zerohedge

Posted 2015-04-17T10:07:36.843

Reputation: 959

So you say that had sth done means always that others make it for you while got sth done can sometimes mean that you did it and somethimes that someone else did it? – Vojtech Ruzicka – 2015-04-17T10:32:33.687

I used "usually" for a reason in my answers. – zerohedge – 2015-04-17T10:33:49.003

So is it like Got something done means it was taken care of without specifically mentioning who did it? Like in cases when it does not matter who did it but it is just done and that is all that matters? Or is there some other rule? – Vojtech Ruzicka – 2015-04-17T10:34:03.917

Got it done usually means that the person who said it is the one who carried the action. Had it done almost always means that somebody else has done it on the speaker's behalf. I edited my answer with a better example and more explanations. – zerohedge – 2015-04-17T10:39:36.733

I think in your example you mysteriously renamed "John" to "Sam". – Jay – 2015-04-17T10:49:23.100

Yes, a hair cut is something of a special case, as people normally have some else cut their hair. If you want to say that you cut your hair yourself, you have to spell it out, like, "I cut my own hair." Can't think of other examples off the top of my head, but there probably are some. – Jay – 2015-04-17T10:51:46.770

"Got" can often go either way. Like, "I got my car fixed" could mean I fixed it myself, or that I took it to an auto mechanic. You'd need more context to tell which. As you say, "had" always or almost always means someone else did it. – Jay – 2015-04-17T10:53:27.393